Mark Twain defined a classic as a book “which people praise and don’t read.”
I just finished the Greg Mortenson/David Oliver Relin classic Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time. I’m sure most people have heard of it by now. It has become a New York Times bestseller and I see it prominently displayed in almost every bookstore I walk into. I hope that most people who have heard of it will also read it.
One question asked of members of our family after watching Traces of the Trade or reading Inheriting the Trade is, “What can we do that will make a difference?” Greg Mortenson’s example helps all of us answer this question.
Greg Mortenson is-well, was-a mountain climber. His failed attempt to scale K2, the second-highest mountain on earth, and getting lost during his descent resulted in his being cared for by the residents of a tiny Pakistani village: Korphe. He promised Korphe’s leader that he would return and build a school for the village. Over the following decade Mortenson kept his promise…more than fifty times over. He has raised the funds and overseen construction of more than fifty schools-primarily for girls-in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Yep, an American man, an Infidel, builds schools for girls in the land of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
In the acknowledgments Mortenson writes, “What motivates me to do this? The answer is simple: when I look into the eyes of the children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I see the eyes of my own children full of wonder-and hope that we each do our part to leave them a legacy of peace instead of the perpetual cycle of violence, war, terrorism, racism, exploitation, and bigotry that we have yet to conquer.”